WINNER: Best kindy teacher as voted by our readers
THE winner of our South Burnett's Best Kindy Teacher competition has credited her win to being passionate about childcare, and said it was a team effort across the entire South Burnett.
Lauren Arrell from Nanango Kindergarten was voted by our readers as the winner, and said she was humbled, surprised and blown away by the support from parents and the community.
"The South Burnett has many quality early childhood teachers," she said.
"We really do have such a strong and supportive early childhood network in Kingaroy, Kumbia and Murgon.
"They're all such passionate women who give back to their community on a daily basis and work to improve the learning outcomes for South Burnett children."
Mrs Arrell has been teaching since 1997 and has 22 years of experience teaching young children.
"I'm so fortunate to still love and be passionate about the career that I chose all of those years ago," she said.
"You must always remember that every day you're working and teaching somebody's everything - their special little person. You need to honour and respect that.
"Children are powerful learners and active citizens and we need to give them the confidence and space to explore.
"Research tells us clearly how important the early years are. It affects their development and sets them up for the rest of their lives."
Mrs Arrell is from Kilkivian and has been teaching in the South Burnett for the past 16 years. She started at Nanango Kindergarten at the beginning of this year.
"Nanango Kindergarten is an amazing place to work," she said.
"We have high-quality, excellent staff; caring and supportive parents; a hardworking, motivated committee; and community engagement to be proud of.
"All of the children are delightful and every day it's an honour and privilege to work with them.
"I just want my children to leave my classroom as confident, caring, enthusiastic learners and to be proud of their rural upbringing."
Jeanette Thompson sends both her grandchildren to kindy with Mrs Arrell and originally nominated her as the best kindy teacher in the South Burnett.
"Lauren is just amazing," she said.
"She has just lifted the kindy. The kids love her.
"I think she's so good because of how much she genuinely loves all of the kids and her job. You can just tell how passionate she is.
"She deserves this recognition."
Mrs Arrell's teaching assistant Riley Wilson also couldn't speak more highly of the kindy teacher.
"Everyone here appreciates how much she dedicates her time and energy and love to the kindergarten and the kids," Ms Wilson said.
"Because of her all of the children have an amazing learning environment and they love coming to kindy.
"She's just the best at what she does."